There’s humor, too, though often simply in the form of him spitting an unexpected “fuck!” The show is a campfire tale delivered with TED panache, and if there’s a spritz of hokum implied in that description—well, it’s Bruce Springsteen.
Early parts of the show concern themselves with Springsteen’s childhood, in which adults—including Elvis, who came streaming through the TV set, implanting dreams of stardom—were enchanted beings, saints and monsters.
One saint was his mom, whose traits he lists with pleasing rhythm: “truthfulness, consistency, good humor, professionalism, grace, kindness, optimism, civility, fairness, pride in yourself, responsibility, love, faith in your family, commitment, joy in your work, and a never say die thirst for living.” The monster was his father.
Springsteen punctuates his unfolding narrative with raw takes on tracks both popular (“Dancing in the Dark,” performed in mournful context) and more obscure (“The Wish,” never released on a proper album).
His wife, Patti Scialfa, joins him onstage for two songs, and her relatively reserved manner by his side is oddly charming—a reminder that Springsteen’s performance of humanity is actually superhumanity, and most of us wouldn’t survive five minutes at his level of expressiveness.
The forces that propel Donald Trump, he notes, “speak to our darkest angels, who want to call up the ugliest and the most divisive ghosts of America’s past.” Even the messy magic of making art gets explained in a tidy equation: “One plus one equals three.”
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